DHSRedefining Homeland Security: A New Framework for DHS to Meet Today’s Challenges

Published 18 June 2021

A new report from the Center for American Progress says that to meet the challenges of today, the Biden administration and Congress should reform the Department of Homeland Security around a mission that highlights safety and services alongside its traditional protecting roles.

Between November 2020 and May 2021, researchers at the Center for American Progress (CAP) conducted a qualitative study and review of DHS, informed by discussions with more than 35 stakeholders—including former and current government officials, policy experts, and civil society members. CAP says it focused on first-order questions about DHS’s mission and value proposition and how that relates to the needs, challenges, and opportunities facing the U.S. today. While the study — Redefining Homeland Security: A New Framework for DHS to Meet Today’s Challenges — does not make specific recommendations on the structure of DHS, it proposes a framework that has implications for restructuring and recommends the DHS secretary and Congress realign the components of DHS around that framework.

“The goal of this report is to provide a vision for what a revitalized DHS could achieve for Americans and those who visit or seek safety or opportunity here,” the report says.

Here is the report’s Executive Summary:

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created nearly 20 years ago in response to catastrophic terrorist attacks on the United States. What America needs from DHS today, however, is different from when it was founded. While the department still has an important role to play in preventing attacks against the United States from abroad, it is time to refine the department’s mission and priorities to ensure that they fit current needs.

Many of today’s most serious threats to America’s safety and prosperity—natural disasters, pandemic disease, cyberattacks, and violent white supremacy—originate at home or are borderless by nature. In an era of increased movement of people and goods across borders, we need a DHS that prioritizes the rule of law, and one that protects all Americans as well as everyone who comes to live, study, work, travel, and seek safety here.